Annual Report and Accounts 2017

For the 2017 annual accounts, click here                                                                               

Annual Report


About The BEARR Trust


The BEARR Trust is an English charity that helps children and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. BEARR was formed in 1991 and formally constituted in 1992 to act as a bridge between the health and welfare sectors of Britain and the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union.


During the 1990s the BEARR Trust became a pioneering support organisation for new grass-roots voluntary groups in the region, sharing knowledge, skills and contacts with the aim of:


  • advancing education and training, both academic and vocational
  • protecting and preserving good health, both physical and mental
  • relieving and rehabilitating those suffering from physical or mental handicap.



Objectives and activities


The BEARR Trust’s main purpose now is to promote and support cooperation between small health and social welfare non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the region and those doing similar work in the United Kingdom.


The BEARR Trust has two main strands of activity: a grants scheme for small-scale health and social welfare projects, and networking and information services. These activities, which are connected and mutually reinforcing, are designed to:


  • support organisations committed to reform in the health and social sectors
  • facilitate networking and sharing of information
  • encourage sharing of experience and learning
  • help organisations working in the region to identify potential partners
  • provide seed funding to assist selected organisations to launch or extend partnerships
  • lobby with and on behalf of organisations that share our aims.


BEARR is the only British charity working in this region that combines grant-giving and networking services: BEARR was a pioneer and remains unique.


We are interested in the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.


When planning our activities for the year, the trustees have considered the guidance issued by the Charity Commission on public benefit.



Achievements and performance in 2017


The Small Grants Scheme 2017: projects dealing with mental health issues


Since 2006 BEARR has operated a Small Grants Scheme through which it has made competitive awards to small health and social welfare groups in the region.


The Scheme aims to support and encourage NGOs to:


  • share experience and learning among NGOs with relevant aims
  • disseminate good practice more widely
  • facilitate cooperation with and/or coordination among NGOs and other organisations working with relevant groups
  • improve awareness, influence policy, or engage public institutions in addressing the relevant issues
  • propose other, imaginative, ways of achieving the Scheme’s aims.

Grants are awarded annually, and details of each year’s themes, and how to apply, are published on our website, on social media and in our newsletter.  BEARR will match-fund up to half of a project’s cost, subject to a maximum decided from year to year depending on available resources.


Over the years BEARR grants have covered diverse health and social welfare themes, often building on subjects discussed in our annual conferences. The mental health theme chosen for 2017 attracted 168 applications from a wide geographical region – an indication of the urgent need in these areas.


Applications came from the following countries: Armenia (13); Azerbaijan (7); Belarus (11); Georgia (2); Kazakhstan (8); Kyrgyzstan (11); Moldova (5); Russia (34); Tajikistan (8); and Ukraine (69). A group of trustees and the Information Officer considered all the applications and presented a short-list to the board for final selection.


The trustees awarded eleven grants, totalling just over £28,000, to the following projects:


International Society for Human Rights, Yerevan, Armenia for the project ‘Care for Adolescents with Mental Health Issues at Home’. The NGO organised workshops for 17 families on how to care for their children at home, and supported these families with weekly visits and essential care products. They also trained 17 adolescents in computer skills and developed a guide on family care methods for adolescents with mental health issues.


SOS Children’s Villages, Yerevan, Armeniafor the project ‘Children with Mental Health Issues: A Challenge for Caregivers and Specialists’. The grant was used to train 23 SOS mothers of children with mental health issues, and 17 members of staff of SOS Villages. Psychological services were provided to 11 children.



Azerbaijan Social Work Public Union, Baku, Azerbaijan, with the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Issues, for the project ‘Increasing Mental Health Awareness using an Ecological Perspective’. The grant funded seminars for adolescents, their parents and teachers in three cities (Baku, Khanlar and Quba) in 2017 and early 2018. The NGO is also organising roundtables for Family Support Centres and government agencies; and radio, TV and newspaper discussions in these cities.




Centre for Women in the Modern World, Baku, Azerbaijan, with the Union of Women’s Centres of Georgia, for the project ‘Mental Health Among Refugee Women in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Awareness Raising Campaigns and Assistance’.  Thiscross-border project delivered eight training sessions to 120 women in Azerbaijan and four sessions to 46 women in Georgia.


Open Doors, Nikopol, Ukraine,for the project ‘Respect for Human Rights in the Field of Health – Mentally Ill People in Ukraine’. The NGO organised 10 visits to psychiatric hospitals in Dnipropetrovsk region in order to monitor and analyse violations (including cases of torture and ill-treatment). It conducted more than 120 interviews with patients and relatives: a full evaluation of institutional care for people with mental disabilities was sent to government officials and other NGOs in Ukraine, and a local press conference was held to raise awareness of the issue. A telephone hotline was organised for those wishing to report violations of the rights of mentally ill people.


Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukrainefor the project ‘From thought to action, from action to heart: overcoming the stigma of mental health disorders’. UCU organised a public roundtable dedicated tomental health issues in Ukrainefor 45 journalists and conducted a three-day training session, “Issues of mental health in the media”, attended by 27 journalists. The project was presented at a conference, “Overcoming stigmatisation of mental health disorders”, and on local radio.


Chernobyl Children’s Project, UK, in partnership with Supporting Children Together, Gomel, Belarus for the project ‘Rehabilitation for Children and Adolescents after Treatment in Psychiatric Hospitals’. This project aimed to help children reintegrate into their school and community after treatment; to reduce the stigma of mental illness; and to reduce the number of children being treated in psychiatric hospitals. Experts including a psychotherapist and two psychologists are working with children on their reintegration, helped by a visiting child psychiatrist and clinical nurse from the UK.


Public Fund ‘Gender-Vector’, Kara-Balta, Kyrgyzstanfor their project ‘A Reboot’.  The Fund organised two full-day training sessions on mental health issues for the gay community. Two focus groups were held, with the aim of creating a brochure on mental health for the gay community and NGO staff. Further training sessions and focus groups were planned for 2018.


Institute for Democracy, Comrat, Moldova for the project ‘Psychological Assistance to Victims of Trafficking and Domestic Violence’. The grant supported a permanent centre for psychological assistance to victims of trafficking and domestic violence: the first and only one in the south of Moldova. It also helped to set up a telephone hotline and to create an inter-regional network to spread good practice among NGOs working in this field.


Public Organization ‘Arzanda,’ Khujand, Tajikistanfor the project ‘Preventing mental health issues through awareness-raising activities and improving the social dialogue of households’ through workshops and work with local communities in the remote rural area of Panjakent district.




Ulitsa Mira, St Petersburg, Russiawith St Petersburg Foundation for Crisis Psychological Help for Children and Young People ‘New Steps’, for the project ‘Crisis Psychological intervention for children who have experienced abuse and neglect’. The NGO delivered individual and group sessions for children who have suffered neglect and abuse, and for their families.



Monitoring and evaluation of grant-funded projects


We look continually for ways to improve the quality and consistency of monitoring and evaluation of projects. We ask grant recipients to complete a monitoring form, and encourage them to share information about lessons learned, and where projects did not meet their aims, as well as successes. Trustees and volunteers visit projects when their own travel provides opportunities to do so at low cost.


Reports on projects by the Institute for Democracy in Moldova and Gender Vector in Kyrgyzstan were published in BEARR Newsletter No 70 in January 2018; others will follow in the September 2018 Newsletter (all available on We encourage grant recipients to send interim news and photos as their projects progress, and we post regular project updates on BEARR’s Facebook page.


While day to day tracking of current projects is carried out by BEARR’s Information Officer, we are also keen to extend more formal external evaluation of projects – in particular to assess impact some time after project completion. We hope to involve the academic community in this work. In 2017 we carried out our first peer evaluation of projects. This involved paying for participants from two BEARR-funded projects in Central Asia to visit each other early in 2017, assisted by a third NGO that had carried out BEARR-funded projects in the past. The exercise produced useful insights that we expect to build on in the future.



Regional conference planning


As part of our continuing efforts to support networking between organisations working with vulnerable groups in the region we have started to organise conferences outside the UK.


We held a successful conference in Lviv in 2016, but we were unable to find sufficient local resources to organise a conference in Tbilisi in 2017, as we had hoped. However, we are now planning a conference in another country of the region early in 2019.



Annual conference held in London: HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia


BEARR’s annual conferences are intended to help NGOs in the UK and in the region to make and maintain contacts and exchange experiences, and to provide a forum for discussion of developments affecting NGOs in the region. The 2017 annual conference asked the question: “HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – bucking the trend?”, reflecting the fact that this region has the highest growth of infection in the world, in contrast to slowing rates elsewhere.


Presentations by speakers from the UK, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Moldova, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan included:


  • Dr Ulla Pape, Lecturer in European Studies at the University of Bremen (Germany)
  • Dr Charles Ssonko, HIV/TB Adviser at MédecinsSans Frontières(MSF), London
  • Sergii Dvoriak, Senior Scientist, Institute for Public Health Policy, Ukraine
  • Julian Hows, Associate/Consultant at Global Network of People Living with HIV
  • Yelena Rastokina, Union of People Living with HIV, Kazakhstan (via Skype)
  • Jill Owczarzak, Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • Oxana Buzovici, Union of HIV Prevention and Harm Reduction (UORN), Moldova
  • Daria Alexeeva, Project Manager atAFEW International, The Netherlands


The conference brought together more than 40 participants from civil society organisations, including NGOs, think tanks and academia, as well as students, volunteers and health practitioners from BEARR’s region, the US and EU countries. The full conference report can be read in BEARR Newsletter No. 70 (January 2018) and on the BEARR website



The BEARR Trust Annual Lecture: ‘Russia – The Power of a Narrative’ given by Arkady Ostrovsky


The BEARR Trust annual lecture was given on 26 June 2017 by Arkady Ostrovsky, Russia and Eastern European editor of The Economist and winner of the Orwell prize in 2016 for his book, The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War.


A full report on Arkady Ostrovsky’s fascinating account of the strengthening of the nationalist narrative within a personalistic system in Russia can be read in BEARR Newsletter No. 69 (September 2017) and on the BEARR website


The lecture was hosted, as in previous years, by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and introduced by the EBRD’s Director of Communications, Jonathan Charles. Our annual lecture is a fundraising event for BEARR, and we are grateful to the EBRD for their support, and to all those who donated to BEARR.



Publications: newsletters and bulletins


As usual we published two newsletters in 2017, in January and September. Newsletters continued to be distributed by email and uploaded to the BEARR website, with a limited colour-print edition for distribution to BEARR supporters and at BEARR events.


In 2017 the newsletters carried reports on projects in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine that had been funded by BEARR’s Small Grants Scheme in 2015 and 2016. There were articles on autism spectrum disorder in Georgia and on cystic fibrosis healthcare in Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. An academic article by former BEARR trustee Dr Chris Gerry investigated the mortality rates of Russian middle-aged men. There were reports on the annual lecture (see above) and on BEARR’s 25thanniversary conference in London (see above), and a country profile of Kyrgyzstan.


Current and archived newsletters are available on our website:


Monthly e-bulletins continued to cover the latest developments affecting civil society, especially in the health and social welfare sectors. The e-bulletins are proving to be a useful resource for anyone interested in NGO activities and civil society in the region.



Website and social media


Following a review of BEARR’s communications in 2016, the trustees agreed a more precise description of BEARR’s vision. We started work on updating the website and are continuing this project in 2018 with the intention of strengthening the impact of BEARR’s content and messages. The website  is an important platform for our information and networking activities, as well as providing a valuable research resource through its growing archive. It is kept up to date in both English and Russian. We are very grateful to the volunteer who hosts the website.


The Information Officer continued to update BEARR’s Facebook page with postings in English, Russian and Ukrainian. We use Facebook to advertise BEARR newsletters and e-bulletins, events, the Small Grants Scheme, grant schemes from other givers, and volunteering opportunities with other charities. We publish regular updates from projects funded by the Small Grants Scheme, and we also share items of topical interest.


The Information Officer also maintained BEARR’s Twitter feed @BEARRTweets with news from BEARR and retweets from other relevant organisations in our region.


Posts on The BEARR Trust’s Facebook page regularly reach 150-300 people, with the annual call for bids for grants in mid-December reaching over 3,000 readers. There were 658 page followers and 666 page ‘Likes’. The number of page viewings in 2017 (organic, not paid) peaked at 400 at the end of October 2017. The Twitter feed has had 698 ‘Likes’ and has 284 followers.



Design and launch of the 2018 Small Grants Scheme


Following successful fundraising early in 2018, the trustees increased the budget for the 2018 Small Grants Scheme to £30,000. We have provisionally awarded grants to eleven projects aimed at improving the employability of young people (aged 16-30) with mental or physical disabilities.



Structure, governance and management


The BEARR Trust is constituted by a Declaration of Trust dated 27 April 1992 and Supplemental Deed of Variation dated 14 December 1995.


The organisation is run on a voluntary basis by its trustees, with part-time paid consultancy support from an Information Officer and a representative in Moscow, and with the help of several volunteers.




The BEARR Trust has a number of distinguished patrons: The Duchess of Abercorn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Elena Bashkirova Barenboim, Lady Ellen Dahrendorf, Myra Green OBE, Bridget Kendall MBE, Sir Roderic Lyne KBE CMG, Sir Jonathan Miller CBE, Mike Simmonds, Rair Simonyan, Dr Robert van Voren, PhD, FRCPsych (Hon), Sir Andrew Wood GCMG.





The board of trustees reflects a wide range of experience and relevant expertise. We were delighted to welcome three new trustees in 2017: Biljana Radonjić Ker-Lindsay, Head of the Civil Society Engagement Unit at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Charlie Walker, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Southampton; and Ali Lantukh, specialist in Russian and Ukrainian current affairs, human rights and civil society developments.


Trustees who have served at any time during the period from 1 January 2017 until the date of the approval of this report are:


Andrea Bennett (until October 2017)

  • Megan Bick
  • Robert Brinkley CMG, Chairman
  • Ross Gill
  • Janet Gunn CMG
  • Ali Lantukh
  • Marcia Levy
  • Ann Lewis CMG
  • Biljana Radonjić Ker-Lindsay
  • Nicola Ramsden, Deputy Chairman
  • Michael Rasell
  • Clare Reilly (until January 2017)
  • Charlie Walker


Trustees are appointed by a resolution of the trustees.Potential trustees are sought through recommendation by existing trustees, or through advertising.  Since 2014, new trustees have been appointed for a period of three years, renewable by mutual agreement. All trustees are given a copy of the Charity Commission publication ‘The Essential Trustee: An Introduction’. They are referred to the full version of this document on the Charity Commission website, and to the Trust’s annual report and accounts and other information on its website


New trustees are given an induction pack consisting of the Trust’s governing documents, minutes of the most recent meetings of trustees, and the latest newsletter. This information is supplemented by process notes prepared by trustees and volunteers, describing all aspects of BEARR’s operations. New trustees are also given a detailed description of BEARR’s governance policies, covering conflicts of interest, management of volunteers, monitoring and review, and financial controls. BEARR maintains a register of interests, in line with Charity Commission recommendations, that all trustees are required to sign.


Trustee meetings are held bi-monthly. Sub-groups of trustees meet more often to manage specific tasks such as conference organisation, communications strategy, and the Small Grants Scheme. All the trustees participate in planning, and have agreed the following action plan for 2018:


  • Raise an additional £15,000 per annum, preferably on a multi-year basis.
  • Maintain an active network of trustees, patrons and volunteers.
  • Ensure that all volunteers have clear roles and feel supported by their managers.
  • Ensure BEARR makes effective use of the possibilities offered by information technology and social media.
  • Develop cooperation with the academic community in the UK and in the region, including through joint events.
  • Organise the London conference.
  • Organise a conference in the region.
  • Organise one or two public lectures.
  • Issue two newsletters and monthly bulletins.
  • Run a scheme offering small grants to NGOs and evaluate the 2017 Small Grants Scheme.
  • Plan a further Small Grants Scheme in 2019.


The action plan reflects BEARR’s broad aims for 2016-2020:


  • Ensure stable multi-year financingfrom multiple sources, including foundations, companies and individuals (the Friends Scheme).
  • Maintain an adequate pool of competent
  • Develop and if possible expand the Small Grants Scheme, ensuring more rigorous monitoring and evaluation of projects.
  • Expand networkingactivities, including by organising an annual workshop in BEARR’s region.
  • Ensure that BEARR’s information technology, website and social media presenceeffectively and efficiently support our grant-making and networking activities.


Management and volunteers


The BEARR Trust is managed by its trustees, who give significant amounts of time in addition to their trustee duties. The Information Officer and the Moscow representative are the only people who receive fees for their work.


We rely on volunteers for many important tasks: preparing and examining BEARR’s financial accounts, hosting the website, translating for publications, interpreting at conferences, organising events and supporting social media. Volunteers regularly give over 100 days in total to BEARR each year, and their efforts helped to keep overhead costs low in 2017.


We aim to ensure that all volunteers have clear roles and feel supported by their managers. BEARR provides interesting opportunities for volunteers of any age and at any stage of their career, including students and recent graduates: we particularly welcome volunteers with knowledge of the region and/or of its languages.





Networking is a key aspect of BEARR’s charitable work, which depends on maintaining an active network of trustees, patrons and volunteers. We connect with other charities involved with countries in our area of interest through our newsletter, annual and regional conferences, seminars, website and monthly information bulletin. We are also keen to develop cooperation with the academic community in the UK and in the region, including organising joint events where possible.



Risk management


The trustees have concluded that the main risks facing the Trust are insufficient funding and resources.  These risks have been reduced for the time being through the award of a multi-year grant totalling $250,000, paid in instalments of $50,000 per annum over five years 2016-2020. The grant covers the full range of BEARR’s activities.


We will continue to manage financial risk by planning an affordable programme of charitable expenditure, and by committing only to expenditure that can be amended in the light of future income flows. Since our most important source of funding is now a US dollar-denominated grant, this includes taking into account changes in the US dollar exchange rate. We aim to mitigate this exposure by continuing to seek diverse sources of funding. We also observe a policy of maintaining a level of unrestricted reserves sufficient to fund at least one year’s core expenditure.



Financial Review




Income in 2017 was £54,636, almost £4,000 less than in 2016, but still significantly more than in 2015. BEARR received the second $50,000 tranche of a five-year grant from a charitable foundation. Converted as £39,540, this was our main source of income in the year. Because the grant is denominated in US dollars and converted into pounds sterling on receipt, its value to BEARR varies from year to year depending on the exchange rate. The US dollar was relatively strong when the 2017 grant was received, so the grant yielded over £5,600 more in 2017 than in 2016.


Although the annual grant was higher in sterling terms in 2017 than in 2016, the beneficial effect of the stronger US dollar was offset by a reduction in general donations of almost £9,500, to £12,472 from £21,965 in 2016. However, the overall figure for donations in 2016 was inflated by a large Gift Aid repayment relating to earlier years. After removing Gift Aid from the comparison, general donations in 2017 were around £4,500 less than in 2016. In 2017 BEARR benefited from the sale proceeds of the EBRD’s 2016 seasonal greetings cards, and from the generosity of individual donors and trusts, many of whom donate regularly.


Two smaller but regular sources of income were the annual lecture, BEARR’s main fundraising event, and donations to BEARR’s Friends Scheme. The annual lecture raised just over £1,500, a little more than in 2016. Donations from Friends contributed just over £1,000, marginally less than in 2016.




BEARR increased its charitable expenditure significantly in 2017, to £50,144 compared with £39,818 in 2016. The largest item of expenditure was the 2017 Small Grants Scheme. We funded more than £28,000 of grants in 2017, compared with just over £20,000 in 2016. We spent a further £1,500 on external monitoring and evaluation of previous years’ projects (project monitoring is also carried out by BEARR’s Information Officer).


BEARR’s information work accounted for the rest of our charitable expenditure: updating the website, producing newsletters, and organising the annual conference in London for NGOs from the UK and countries in BEARR’s region.


BEARR’s total expenditure was £52,153 in 2017, meaning that charitable expenditure accounted for 96% of the total. We are able to operate with low overheads because much of our work is carried out pro bonoby the trustees and volunteers, who regularly contribute more than 70 and 100 days respectively each year. We pay fees to our Moscow representative and to the Information Officer, whose work on the Small Grants Scheme and BEARR’s information services is included in charitable expenditure.


Fundraising and sources of funding: restricted and unrestricted funds


The BEARR Trust’s main sources of funds, in order of relative importance, are unrestricted grants, donations, and the proceeds of fundraising events. BEARR has limited capacity to organise fundraising events apart from the annual lecture, but we welcome fundraising opportunities in association with other charities – in September 2017 we collaborated with HealthProm in order to benefit from a concert in St Paul’s Church Covent Garden organised by the Brandenburg Choral Festival.


BEARR currently has no restricted income.


The trustees aim to raise funds from as diverse a range of sources as possible. In 2017 we set a target of raising £15,000 from sources other than the existing grant and events. Although we fell slightly short of the 2017 target, the trustees have set the same target for 2018, with an emphasis on multi-year donations. Fundraising in 2018 has begun well, with income already received from new donors and grant-giving foundations. Fundraising is carried out by the trustees and the Information Officer.


Foreign currencies


Since 2016 we have converted income received in foreign currencies into sterling on receipt, so we have no foreign currency balances at the year end. Prior to 2016 we held foreign currency income in US dollar or Euro accounts, converting it as needed into sterling. The final balance of funds held in foreign currency accounts was converted into sterling in the course of 2016.


Reserves policy


The BEARR Trust maintains unrestricted cash funds at a level sufficient to cover BEARR’s operating costs and to pursue BEARR’s principal objectives for at least one year. Unrestricted funds are monitored through regular budgets and cash flow forecasts. There are no restricted funds.


Reserves rose in 2017 to £47,341 from £44,858 at the end of 2016


The BEARR Trust has no investments.





Administrative and contact information


The BEARR Trust has the English registered charity number 1011086.


BEARR is based at:


CAN Mezzanine

32-36 Loman Street


London SE1 0EE


Tel: +44 (0)20 7922 7849




Approved by the trustees on 7 June 2018


Signed by the Chairman, Robert Brinkley CMG